Lucozade Sport ad banned for claiming it ‘fuels and hydrates better than water’

An ad campaign for Lucozade Sport has been banned by the advertising watchdog for claiming the drink “hydrates and fuels you better than water”.

Video: Lucozade Sport ’Fuels and hydrates you better than water’ TV ad banned by ASA

A TV ad featured two groups of men running on treadmills who were being monitored by lab technicians. One group was shown drinking water while the other drank Lucozade Sport as they ran, with those in the first group dropping out of the competition one-by-one, apparently exhausted. At the end of the ad on-screen text stated: “[Lucozade Sport] hydrates and fuels you better than water”, next to an image of the drink.

The Grey London-created campaign also featured posters carrying the “hydrates and fuels you better than water” strapline and featured sports stars such as Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale and England rugby union star Chris Robshaw.

The activity racked up 63 complaints, including one from the Natural Hydration Council (NHC), challenging whether the strapline breached the advertising code which states that marketers can only use specific health and nutrition claims that are assessed by the European Food Safety Authority and listed on the EU Register in their ads.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) found that in trying to simplify the listed claim that “carbohydrate-electrolyte solutions contribute to the maintenance of endurance performance during prolonged endurance exercise” to the word “fuels”, Lucozade Sport had breached the advertising code.

The regulator also noted that while the poster campaign featured sports stars, this practice is “fairly common” in ad campaigns, and that the average consumer would not necessarily infer the claimed health benefits would only be achieved during prolonged exercise.

The ASA banned both ads and also warned former owner GSK – and new parent Suntory – to avoid substituting product names for the food category authorised by the EU. A Lucozade Ribena Suntory spokeswoman said the company would ensure future advertising is more aligned to the authorised advertising claim wording in the EU register regarding how Lucozade Sport contributes to the “maintenance of performance”.

Kinvara Carey, general manager of the NHC, says the organisation was “pleased” with the ASA’s decision to uphold its complaint.

She adds: “There is already much confusion over the role of sports drinks and for the majority of people participating in exercise and sporting activities, water is all that is needed for effective hydration. The majority of sports drinks contain calories and may only have a positive contribution to make to professional athletes and those participating in high intensity, endurance activity.”

A survey of 2,000 consumers conducted by OnePoll and commissioned by NHC found that nearly 80 per cent of people would normally choose water for hydration before seeing the Lucozade Sport TV campaign – but after viewing the ad, more than 55 per cent said they understood the message was that Lucozade Sport is better than water for hydration during any exercise.

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